When I moved from Hawaii to a small Massachusetts town west of Boston, bonding with nature took on new meaning for me. Springtime in New England arrives right after mud season. Gardeners, desperate for a hot date with color after the frigid Winter, are filled with longings that must be satisfied. Knowing my own predisposition for filling my car with plants every time I visited a nursery, I needed a support group. A friend urged me to join the town garden club.
“You’ll fit right in. These are very creative people who know their flowers and get their hands dirty,” he told me.
I volunteered to be on the plant collecting committee. Our task was digging up our neighbors’ unwanted plants to be sold at the garden club’s sale. I looked forward to seeing gardens and learning more about local customs.
Shedding my long underwear like a snake sheds its skin, I awaited my digging partner, Liz, whose family had lived there for generations. She arrived with an arsenal of shovels, clippers, gloves, and buckets laid out neatly on a tarp in the back of her posh station wagon.
At the first garden, an adorable white bunny hopped along with us, as the owner, cocktail in hand, toured
us around her yard. Pointing to a choked mass of irises, she said, “Those roses need thinning.” Liz glanced at me—and shook her head. We were there to dig up free plants, not give botanical lessons. The owner toddled off to refresh her drink, and we set to our task.
We finished, grimy and sweaty, and Liz went to find the owner. I lay back on the grass, eyes closed, listening to birdsong. The bunny, pink-nosed and fluffy as a character from a children’s story, had stayed within sight, so when I felt it behind me snuffling my hair, I stayed still, keeping my eyes closed and thinking, “How sweet, how Alice in Wonderland.” But then paws gripped my hair and—Eeeuwww!—Mister Bunny put himself against my ear and started doing, well…it.
I leapt up in shock and cried, “Liz!”
“Right here,” she called, beaming. Liz’s goofy grin told me she’d seen the X-rated show.
“Is that his usual behavior?” I asked the owner.
She waved her glass, sloshing her drink over the edge, and chirped, “It’s Spring!”
Liz and I retreated to her car. Once out of sight of the queen and her white rabbit, we howled—then drove towards our next garden.
Got any pets?” Liz cheerily asked the couple greeting us. “They just love Beth,” she said, dragging out the word loooove.
Then she snorted. I swear she did. ❖